Monday, 26 April 2010

More on Bacardi – who owns a brand?

I need to refer today to the previous blog re: Bacardi Rum Havana Club. I have been contacted by Amy Federman, for Bacardi USA Inc., who has kindly sent me a better bottle image for the rum - I am afraid I do not know how to post a big picture (literally), so I hope you can see the label (right). She adds, “Puerto Rican Rum is clearly labelled on the front of the bottle”.

On the case, the judge held that the company was not misleading consumers. However, apart from the question of infringement is the issue, I believe, of using a well known geographical indication for the product –rum.

Now leaving aside these two issues, I found another one. By reading the label I noticed that underneath the words ‘Havana Club’ there was the term BRAND. The question then is who owns the brand? To answer this we are back to square one. A Geographical Indication may belong to a group of individuals or producers that share the ‘goodwill’. The real question is: Does Bacardi have any rights to use the words Havana Club? I would like to hear your views in this matter so don’t be shy and write a comment. It will be very helpful for my forthcoming seminar.

1 comment:

Arturo said...

The owner of the trademark “HAVANA CLUB” in Mexico and Europe is Havana Club Holding, an entity from Luxemburg. In the market, the trademark identifies Cuban rum. I believe that this entity should have some link with a Cuban-based corporation.

From all the possible combinations using the word HAVANA, it is not a coincidence that Bacardi choose to register “HAVANA CLUB”. From my perspective, it is not only a matter of using misleading geographical indications, but also a case of appropriation (it can’t be a misappropriation because a Court allowed it) of the leading well-known trademark of a global competitor, with a political twist.

This situation is not exclusive of rum. Many well-known Cuban trademarks for cigars (COHIBA and ROMEO Y JULIETA) have been registered in the United States by US-based corporations, and such cigars are not made of tobacco grown in Cuba.